Monday, June 2, 2014

The Brace of Pheasants Pub in the Dorset Countryside

Nestled down beautiful country lanes in the idyllic Dorset hamlet of Plush, within the parish of Piddletrenthide, is the Brace of Pheasants, a beautiful 16th-century thatched pub run by Phil and Carol Bennett. Located in the heart of Hardy's Dorset, the pub stands in a small side-valley of the River Piddle at the village crossroads close to Plush Brook, the result of a merger between two cottages and the village forge. Outside is a lovely sloping garden with a terrace, while the interior is all wooden floors, low beams, open fires and a welcoming bar that serves real ales. The highly-rated restaurant serves local fish and game, including dishes such as Garlic & Herb Marinated Local Venison, Roast Guinea Fowl and Wild Boar and Apple Sausages, while the cheese board has a not-to-be-missed selection of Dorset cheeses — a menu that's sure to warm the cockles of any good Englishman's heart.

Tucked away on a leafy country lanes of Dorset is the tiny village of Plush

The Brace of Pheasants Pub in the village of Plush near the River Piddle

The cozy interior of the pub

The menu features delicious Dorset fare

A pint of Peroni lager

A pint of local Ringwood Best Bitter served straight from the cask

Warm Crab, Saffron and Lemon Tart with mixed leaves

Homemade Smooth Chicken Liver Paté with tomato relish and toasts

Trio of Wild Boar and Apple Sausages with Onion Gravy, Creamed Mashed Potato and Peas

Game and Ale Casserole with Venison, Rabbit and Pigeon served with Horseradish Mashed Potato

Warm Treacle Tart with Double Cream

As one would expect situated in the heart of Dorset, The Brace has fabulous produce virtually on their doorstep, with George Tucker Butchers in Dorchester, who supplies the pub with beef from Middlemarsh and Higher Waterstone, lamb from Askerswell and rare breed pork from Godmanstone; Margret Ralph in Dorchester for locally sourced venison, pigeon and rabbit, and of course local shoots for partridge and pheasant in season. There's also locally landed fish
and diver caught scallops. The Brace's lunch and dinner menu changes daily and features first class pub fare with starters such as Pan Fried Lambs' Kidneys with mustard cream sauce, Seared Lyme Bay Scallops with pea and horseradish purée and daily homemade soups with bread and butter. And naturally, they serve their local beer — Dorset kidding. 

A leisurely walk through the village of Plush after our soul satisfying pub lunch
greeted us with achingly beautiful vistas of the lush Dorset countryside

A babbling brook flows under the stone entrance of a gated country estate

The winding driveway up to one of Plush's more grand country homes

A sign hangs outside a small cottage in Plush

A lovely country lane

Wild flowers in bloom along the country lane

Even the horse across from the pub looked content and happy to be in his little patch of paradise 

Entrées include Beer Battered Fish of the Day with homemade chips, tartar sauce and garden peas, Dorset Wild Boar and Apple Sausages with creamed mashed potato, peas and onion gravy and Whole Roasted Thyme Stuffed Gilthead Bream served with a dill pollen and herb butter, new potatoes and mixed leaf salad, for fish lovers. No pub would be worth it's salt if it didn't serve a decent pud or two. There's Sticky Toffee Pudding with caramel sauce and ice cream, Warm Chocolate and Black Cherry Torte with clotted cream and of course, a cheeseboard of Dorset cheeses, including Dorset Blue Vinny, Cornish Yarg, Dorset Coastal Cheddar, Sage Derby, Smoked Dorset Red and Snowdonia, all served with homemade relish and oat crackers. Tucked away down a steep and wiggling country lane, this impossibly picturesque 16th-century thatched pub is a chore to find, but well worth the effort if you do.

Celeriac Remoulade 
Recipe courtesy: Mike Feasey - Brace of Pheasants, Plush, Dorset

2 kg celeriac, well-peeled, fine-julienned 
1 tbsp mayonnaise  
15g salted drained anchovies, pulped 
2 tbsp drained capers 
2 tbsp strong mustard 
A large squeeze lemon juice

Blanch the celeriac juliennes in boiling water, refreshing in iced water after one minute. Drain well, and squeeze out the excess water. Blend the capers, mustard and anchovies with the lemon juice and a little of the mayonnaise. When smooth, fold into the rest of the mayonnaise. You may need to adjust the levels. If the mixture is a little to stiff, add a little good-quality olive oil. The remoulade should be a smooth sauce with a little 'after bite' of mustard, anchovy and lemon flavours – all evenly balanced.

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